When it comes to ferreting out the stocker potential of bull calves compared to steers, John F. Currin, DVM, a professor at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech, says the real question boils down to figuring out the post-purchase cost of the bulls.

According to Currin, the extra costs associated with buying bull calves include:

  • The cost of castration.
  • Decreased weight gain post-castration.
  • Increased likelihood of getting shipping fever (BRD).
  • Increased likelihood of calf loss to death (from BRD or castration complication).
In an article he published last month, Currin cites several studies that detail the lost performance, increased pull rate, decreased response rate and increased health costs of bulls compared to steers. Overall, he estimates the decreased value of bull calves, relative to comparable steers ranges from $3-$6/cwt. for three-weight calves to $6-$12/cwt. for six-weights (Table 1).

You can find Currin's article at www.ext.vt.edu/news/periodicals/livestock/aps-06_06/aps-337.html

Table 1
Weight of bulls
purchased
Decreased value of bull calves
relative to comparable steer calves (per cwt.)
300 lbs $3-$6
400 lbs $4-$8
500 lbs $5-$10
600 lbs $6-$12

Source: Dr. John F. Currin, VA-MD Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, VA Tech, Livestock Update, June 2006